DIRECTED BY DAVID FRANKEL
STARRING: OWEN WILSON, JENNIFER ANISTON, ERIC DANE, KATHLEEN TURNER, HALEY BENNETT and ALAN ARKIN
I think the best thing about ‘Marley & Me’ is the fact that it cannot churn out a sequel. I say this not in comparison to ‘Beethoven’ and related dog-movie-franchises, but as a film in itself – you cannot extrapolate it beyond the ends, you cannot see the Grogan couple buy a Chihuahua or a Collie, if the Labrador’s going to give them nostalgia issues. It’s a depiction of a man’s phase of life with the dog and it simply has to end where it ends – as a heart-warming tale not on ‘understanding life’ as imparted by the dog, but on going through it and growing up with it, in a sort of mutual maturation period. It’s like living with your Grandfather except that the Doctor fees come in a lot later.
The film is armed by good acting talent and their well-suited dog(s) – this is where it makes a crucial difference, or so I think. The idea is to have a couple that loves their dog in the sense that they see it as an integral part of their family rather than as a piece of decorative furniture that they polish every day. Owen Wilson as the autobiographical John Grogan and Jennifer Aniston as Jenny Grogan, his wife, are organic in their roles and most importantly – they work well together. The atmosphere is harmonious, the suburban outfit is well-knit and the film is one fine cruise without much of hiccups although it could slightly have bored me being the dog-lover that I’m not. And the end was refreshing, even if not surprising in the least.
What I think is important about the film is that it finds itself fairly essential. It’s not been long since I saw a dog-human bond attempted, even if not in a live-action film but an animated venture by the name of ‘Bolt’ from the Disney label. And the fact that our Penny here is a full-grown man and that it’s a confessional storyline than a sequence of thought-out pranks boosts the levels of connection. And what did the film do to me? It made me realize that a dog could mean different things at different phases of life, ranging from a childhood fascination to a long-lost friend. True, I’m not saying anything particularly individualistic in this regard, but I think that’s enough of an impact for a film to make. And in the end, I wanted to have a dog. I felt that if there’s a time I wanted to marry and if I had a warm, suburban home to house myself in, then I’d take one in, mature with him and probably replicate Mr Grogan’s life and would be glad to do so. And I’d probably even call my dog Marley as well, or maybe Mayer and he shall be my first child and a fair companion from then on.
Now, I might be writing this review from the inside of a little apartment house, but hey – at least the film (and Marley) made me imagine that much!
Love, as I believe, is all about the absence of emphasis. And the fact that the film didn’t try to drive its point through is what I think makes it as likeable. In that way, ‘Marley & Me’ succeeds not only as a good Christmas-release, but as a warm film to spend time on for a loveless heart, for it could sniff some out from unseen corners, with a fairly Canine ease.